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Leaders Don't Create Crisis but Crisis Creates Leaders.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Sunday, 24th November 2013
 

Significant challenges faced by leaders will separate real leaders from the imposters. So, ask yourself, 'Are you a real leader?' How do you handle 'CRISIS'?.
 
Recently while surfing the net I ran across an anonymous quote that read…..
 
"Leaders Don’t Create Crisis but Crisis Creates Leaders."
 
What a profound statement. Crisis creates leaders. Crisis is certainly more prevalent and dramatic today than any time that I can reflect upon of the past. It is no wonder that we are all being tested during these tough times. We must recognize and understand crisis and change management during these times to become more effective leaders and reposition our companies to thrive instead of just surviving. This requires specific recovery and repositioning strategies.
 
Academics often claim that crisis management is synonymous with reactive leadership. They base their opinions on the belief that crisis is unpredictable. I think they are full of crap. Unless you encounter a “Black Swan” event crises’ are often predictable both as an external dynamic and an internal dynamic.
 
Black Swan events are important events, either good or bad, that are highly improbable but happen nonetheless. Using the term Black Swan is a metaphor for an event that just is weird or unexplainable beforehand using logic.
 
Crisis is generally a result of an organization operating culture becomes out of alignment with its operating environment. Effective leaders may not have a crystal ball but they have a good understanding on both internal and external market dynamics. This means they often recognize signals of impending crisis and can manage the urgency of the situation minimizing the potential danger while maximizing response efforts. The key adjective here is “effective” leaders.
 
That being said, many of us (not all) missed the economic signals of our on-going or Pitiful recovery from recession. Part of that is due to the fact that the fish were jumping in the boat for so long we may have allowed our visionary skills to relax by getting into a comfort zone.
 
Profit Covers Many Sins
 
I often state that “Profit Covers Many Sins.” The title of one of my books. Simply put that means that leaders struggle managing change while in the easy profit comfort zone as they prefer to avoid conflict, tough decisions and anything else that could upset the status quo. Leaders that find themselves in this environment are often jolted by crisis and since they are unprepared the very existence of the corporation could be threatened.
 
Initial survival requires immediate attention and urgency to solve the underlying issues that could be causing the crisis. Crisis demands immediate attention by establishing problem solving or contingency planning activities that include cost management and reexamination of “Lean Management Philosophies” or even process reengineering.
 
Effective leaders look upon this type of situation as an opportunity to create a new business model that leverages the company’s competitive advantage and upgrade the systems, structure, processes and even personnel within the company.
 
Crisis Creates Opportunity for Change
 
Creating change when the fish are jumping in the boat is extremely difficult. It is human nature to avoid stepping out of a comfort zone. We realize that change is often a threat to stable relationships, balances of power, functional sharing of operational activities and distribution of resources.

Change can also create conflict which we all have a tendency to avoid. It is often very difficult to introduce change without some pain being felt somewhere in the organization. Face it, if there were no pain there probably would be no need for the change.
 
Credibility and Respect the Foundation of Change
 
Although most effective leaders recognize the need for induced change we often struggle with providing direction without causing pain. It becomes an exercise in balancing the intense pressure of stress while fighting the human instinct to resist change.

This in itself demands that leaders establish respect and credibility long before crisis occurs or change is introduced into the organization. Leaders that haven’t earned this respect and credibility will find it extremely difficult to lead during crisis and will be unable to effectively manage change. Crisis problem solving involves change. Make no mistake --- problem solving will not be effective without induced change.
 
Crisis Creates Leaders
 
Crisis itself can become a wakeup call. It can rejuvenate our competitive spirit and force us to recognize the most pressing issues that may include problem solving or reactive change required by changing dynamic forces thrust upon us by market dynamics or even our competition.
 
Once we awaken from that self-induced complacent slumber of easy success and profitability it becomes much easier to recognize the signals and tremors of impending challenge and potential disaster. It becomes much easier to seize the initiative and harness the sense of urgency to create the change required to reposition the company to thrive instead of survive.
 
Yes --- Crisis Does Create Leaders but it also will weed out ineffective weak leaders.

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution’s “Leadership Strategist”, founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com. Don’t forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business.

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